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Star Power: Canadiens Lessons Learned From Stanley Cup Final

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Montreal Canadiens Nick Suzuki

Montreal Canadiens fans aren’t expecting the team will compete for a Stanley Cup in the near future, but given the team is preparing to take the next step in their long-term rebuild, keeping an eye on Stanley Cup winning teams is in order.

That’s not to say the Canadiens should emulate the 2024 Stanley Cup champions, as recreating the Florida Panthers’ lineup would be impossible. Besides, if you attempt to chase the meta you’re already too far behind. By the time you’ll be ready to compete, the landscape will have changed.

However, there is value in finding some correlations between recent Stanley Cup winners. And when it comes to recurring themes, it’s quite clear that star power is a crucial aspect of the process. According to Hockey Prospecting, the Panthers had seven stars* in their lineup as they eliminated the Edmonton Oilers from the Stanley Cup final.

In this particular case, the star players are as follows: Matthew Tkachuk, Sasha Barkov, Sam Reinhart, Carter Verhaeghe, Aaron Ekblad, Brandon Montour, and Vladimir Tarasenko. Of course, we can debate the labels given to certain players. In this case, I would suggest Tarasenko’s best years are well behind him, and Gustav Forsling was more important when it comes to the factors that allowed the team to win its first Stanley Cup in franchise history. It may also surprise some that a player who only reached 60 points is considered a star, but the definitions aren’t what’s important in this case, and we’re not necessarily discussing elite or generational players, as they are few and far between.

What matters most is finding impact players, and that’s something the Canadiens hope to do on Friday, when they take to the podium at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. Bob McKenzie’s draft rankings have offered some insight as to the possibility a talented forward such as Ivan Demidov or Cayden Lindstrom will be available.

Beyond the player who will be chosen fifth overall, the Montreal Canadiens already have some interesting pieces in place, which have the potential to become star players.

Captain Nick Suzuki has already established himself as a career star, while Cole Caufield is on the cusp. Mike Matheson’s excellent 2023-24 campaign is considered a star season, but that’s where the list ends. Consequently, the team will look to players such as Lane Hutson and Juraj Slafkovsky, among others, to join the list of star players, forming the core of a team that could potentially, one day, challenge for a Stanley Cup.


*Forwards are considered star players if they produce 57 points or more per season. Defencemen are considered star players if they produce over 35 points per season. A ‘true star’ will equal or surpass those numbers throughout his career, while a ‘star season’ means the player in question reached those numbers in a single season.

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Tyrone

Hey Marc, slight boo-boo… Matthew Tkachuk (not Brady)

Delete this once corrected 😁

Tyrone

Think of it like the “5 second rule” if you drop food on the ground. If you fix it fast enough, it never happened. 😁

Peter

Interesting that the Oilers are the second oldest team in the NHL with an average age of 29.84 only behind Pittsburgh at 30.45. Montreal is the third youngest at 25.96 but take away Jake Allen, Sean Monahan, possibly Savard & Matheson then they could be the youngest, also Florida was the15th oldest at 28.54.

Dana

It’s a tool to measure team talent but I think it is too simplistic. It doesn’t account for goalies, which are often the primary influencer of success or lack thereof, and it values barely stars equally with generational talents. It also does not take into consideration value beyond statistics. Forsling is a fine example and I think he was their best defender over Montour and Eckblad. Would you rather face Sam Bennett or Tarasenko? So with some refinement, I think it would be a much more useful tool.

Ideally, you’d want the top 6 and top 2 offensive defenders to be stars and maybe one other player. Hopefully we have that, or on the verge, in 2026-27.

David
  1. Excellent article. Mind you a former General Manager once said that once you make the playoffs anything is possible. The Blackhawks won 14 of their 48 regular-season games, but eventually won the Stanley Cup.
  2. Chicago went 8-2 over the three playoff series, winning 66 percent as many games as they did in the regular season.
David

I was referring to the 1938 Chicago Blackhawks.

morrisk

Don’t agree with this one bit. In fact, its the complete opposite. I don’t care what those “charts” show.

A team with very good to excellent players usually beats a team with a couple of elite superstars in the playoffs/Cup finals.

The Panthers do NOT have any true elite superstars on their team. They have a bunch of hard working, in your face, never quit, very good players. As opposed to EDM, which has 2 elite superstars – and then there’s everyone else.

Vegas won the Cup last year doing the exact same thing as the Panthers did this year.

So did STL in 2019.

Heck, even WASH in 2018, Ovi had 87 pts, which topped the team. Hardly an elite superstar season from a superstar.

The game is changing.

Its why ZERO #1 picks in the draft have won a cup since the 2014 pick – who just won it.

Its why guys like Austin Matthews struggle to even get to the Cup.

Too much $ gets invested in these “superstars” and the team can’t fill out the roster with a bunch of really good, playoff-type players.

I’m just saying that I’d rather have a Carter Verhaeghe than Austin Mathews or Leon Draisaitl on my Cup team. And I’d rather have the team the Panthers had than the team EDM had in my Cup finals. And yes, even though I’ll get my head chewed off for this comment – I’d rather have 3 or 4 Carter Verhaeghes than one Celebrini…and if I were SJ, I’d trade that pick to the highest bidder who will gladly overpay for this one elite superstar.

The Lesson learned is the Habs need a bunch of Verhaeghes – not one Celebrini.

Last edited 24 days ago by morrisk
Dana

Erik Johnson Jordan Staal, Kane, Stamkos, Doughty, Hedman, Seguin, Landeskog, McKinnon, Barkov, Eckblad, Reinhart, and Eichel are players drafted first or second overall that won Cups in the first 10 years in the salary cap era. Plus tCrosby and malkin and Ovie whose careers have been impacted by the cap and won cups.

Your argument is slanted as you are taking every other drafted guy- over 1800 drafted players against 20. Recent first overall picks were selected by the lowest ranked team in the league so of course Bedard, Slafkovsky Hughes Power etc haven’t won cups yet, it takes time. Oilers barely missed winning the Cup which would shatter your main point. As with Ovie, who will go down as one of the top 2 goal scorers in history- a superstar of superstars- the Oilers duos story is not finished and I’d say the same for Matthews.

Teams need elite talent to win Cups. Rarely do teams without elite talents win the cups, once a decade or so. Starting in the 70’s Flyers, Bruins Habs Islanders Oilers Penguins Red wings Avalanche, New Jersey , Ducks and Lightning ( Vinny, Richards, MSL version) which brings us to 2010 with Kane and toews.
Do you know what you call a team with Verhaege as the best player? First on stage at the entry draft.

Greg

What has the world come to when 57 points is a star player. 57 points is above average, not star power. There are exceptions, like take Patrice Bergeron, nobody would say he wasn’t a star despite underwhelming point totals his entire career.
The minimum production to be considered a star offensive player was always getting a point per game, and doing it year in and year out. 57 points in 60 games? Sure. 57 in 82, you aren’t an offensive star: you’re above average.
It’s thinking like this that has guys with career point averages of 53/season expecting to get term and $ like an actual star player. I’m talking about you, Neca$. I hope some other team “wins” the right to overpay him.